I’m not sure that it would be fair for me to fully identify as a runner. I don’t run every day, I don’t even run consistently throughout the year. I don’t wake up at 6am and when I run, it’s not just me and nature… it’s me, nature, my ipod and my phone in case I want to call a friend during the ‘walking portion’ of the workout. Still, running is the one form of exercise that I’ve consistently gone back to time and time again.
It started with my dad. He didn’t start identifying as a runner until his late 20s. In my mnid, he embodied what a true runner should be. He’d take off with my old dog Maggie in tow and just start running. Whether it was 3 or 10 miles later, he’d feel satisfied. Initially, he didn’t do it for the racing or the competition, just for himself. Later in his life, he joined the track team at Unum. That was around the time of my first introduction to running. There would be kid’s races at the track meets and I’d often join in. I used to be pretty good and as kids have an inordinate amount of energy, it felt like a great outlet. As I got older and hit Junior High, I joined the track team. I’d like to say I’ve got a great story for you there, but I wasn’t very good at all. I’d always get put in the short distance races and consistently came in last. I didn’t really come into my own as a runner until after college. I’m not entirely sure what got me started. I’d like to think that it was my dad.
I was living in a studio apartment on the corner of Riverside Drive and 72nd Street, right across from the Eleanor Roosevelt statue. I loved Riverside Park… still do. It was always less crowded than Central Park and it gave you water views alongside greenery. So what if you were looking out over the NJ skyline. I used to head down there and run up the West side. My dad and I ran all the way up to the George Washington Bridge once, or at least close. At that time, it may have been the longest I’d run.
I paired up with a college friend and started doing races in Central Park put on by the New York Road Runners Club. I’m not sure if I joined right away, or ran a few before signing on, but I’ve now been a member from the time I was about 23. I still am acutally… I signed up for a 5 year membership a year or two ago, never dreaming that I’d actually leave NY. At least I know I can still get member rates if I’m ever in the city for a race! Anyway, I ran regularly in my early 20s and was probably in the best shape of my life. Until…
My cousin Tara and I decided to train for a 1/2 marathon – the first year of the NYC Half Marathon presented by Nike actually. It was before they started with the lottery, but it was still wildly popular. We were both online for about 45 minutes trying to get a spot and we both made it. She and I checked in with each other on training runs and tried to meet up at least once a week. We followed the training program as well as we could and both got to a point when we were running about 25 miles a week. The race was on August 5, 2007 and it was hooooot. It was an amazing experience. Challenging, exhilarating and rewarding, it was our triumph. Since then, I’ve done 4 more and Tara has done 3. She’s just now training for a full marathon next Spring.
I ended up taking a bit of a break. I had signed up for the NYC 1/2 again, but hadn’t trained properly and opted out. I thought I might run the Philly 1/2, but the timing wasn’t right as I’d already moved here to Maine. After moving here, I was walking less (people here drive EVERYWHERE) and doing more things around the apartment that prevented me from getting out for a run. It’s always hard to get started again, to get over that initial hump. The aches and pains, the shorter distances that feel like forever, the lack of strong lung power. But it’s always worth it. If you can stick with it long enough to feel good at running 3-4 miles regularly, it can be a release, a break in the day, something to give you motivation and strength.
So, I’m making myself a promise. I will get myself started again. If you’re in the Portland area and you’re looking for a running partner, drop me a line. Maybe you’d like to join me for the Maine 1/2 this October?
So… if you’ve made it this far, thanks;). The one benefit to not being the type of person who just bonds with nature during a run is that I’ve got my phone with my nifty little camera. So, here is a sampling of what a few of my afternoon runs have looked like at Baxter Boulevard.
A few running resources: