But 35 years later I have a sorrowful confession to make.
I hate running. *SOB*
Hate may be too weak a word. I have some of the same feelings about running as I do about death: it's going to happen. It's going to suck. And after it happens, I will probably end up in a pine box.
It may have started in the 6th grade when I discovered biking. In fact, biking replaced running and I biked everywhere, even riding 3 miles to soccer practice and 3 miles home afterwards.
For a 6th grader, running was to biking what cars were to rockets: too slow. Too little so see. Too mundane. Biking was cheap transport, too, and became more of a necessity as I neared driving age with no car and no means to see friends other than hopping on a bike and riding at least a couple of miles.
Oh sure, I could have run. But when was the last time you jogged to work instead of hopping in the car? Exactly.
Running lost some of it's allure, though I was still fairly fast and I definitely enjoyed it. I ran track briefly in High School, and though I never finished better than 5th in any event, I felt every bit a runner. Crazily, I even ran in -40 degree weather in my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, putting a garbage bag over a shirt and my track sweatshirt over both, wearing a scarf over my mouth to ward against the cold air.
I was a teenage running idiot. Clearly.
In college I joined the National Guard and in my advanced training(AIT) I ran the 2-mile in 12:30. I had never run faster before or since. I was pretty quick, and proud of it. If you have run faster than that, I would love to talk about it. We could sit down and discuss it over a beer and then I could poke you in the eye.
That was pretty much the end of running for awhile. I played intramural football and a little rugby in college, - who needs brain cells? - but after college running was pretty much a once-every-few-months-maybe affair. I had work, I had community service, joined a local rotary club, had a child. Plus, I had a car. I mean really, why run? I HAD A CAR.
Perhaps this was the natural outgrowth of aging from youthful ability: I AM fit, I CAN run. Why do I need to keep running?
As we all know, fitness doesn't last forever. Well, we know it when we hit forty. For those of you still under forty, you suck. Oh, and a bit of advice for when you get to that age: PREPARE FOR THY DOOM.
My spouse changed all that non-running nonsense(as they often do. I mean the change part, not the running part. The fact that she picked running is just 'lucky' I guess). She was motivated to lose weight and we started a self-induced Body-For-Life regimen, running for just 20 minutes 3 days a week. About 9-10 minute miles. No big deal. I despised it, but I love her, so whadayado? Ah, courtship.
We lost weight. For eight weeks, we saw great results, and then she got pregnant, which of course ruined EVERYTHING. I know that I was secretly happy to stop running, even if she was sad about it. Run? While pregnant? That's just crazy.
So another break, which lasted for years, really, until the last year or so when honey dragged my sorry butt outside again and we began shuffling our way to fitness.
And just what, pray tell, are these ludicrous ideas that so-called 'real' runners keep throwing around like they actually exist? Runner's High? Second Wind?
Runner's high? This is a cruel joke they tell newbies so they'll keep running, thinking they just "don't get it". The runner's high seems like the emperor's new clothes to me, something only the smart can see. Clearly I am too stupid, and it just looks like a naked dude running up the street sucking wind.
Second wind? To me, that's like one of those political terms cooked up to make something sound better than it is, like gift tax, or job creators. My second wind consists of a 5 minute period that I am not gasping deperately for breath. I think, suddenly, "Hey, I might not fall on my face immediately on the next step! I think this must be that second wind thing everyone talks about!" And then the feeling passes and I DO fall flat on my face. I believe runners call this "the wall", or as I call it "the living death."
Running is the armor I wear to ward off these villains, but it is heavy. And it smells like old socks.
Maybe I hate running because it represents the sacrifices that characterize life as an adult: running is changing diapers. Running is doing the dishes, waking at 4:30am to catch a plane to get to that conference, washing the car, cleaning the garage. Running is work. Obligation. It is setting the burglar alarm. Asking the kids yelling in the street to be quiet. Running, in short, represents every pain in the ass thing I have to do in my life.
Someday perhaps I will catch a glimpse of the glory of running again, relive a brief memory as a child, fleet of foot, carefree, running as fast as I could and totally aware of the wind flying past my face. Wait. I almost had it there. Ah. Nope.
Until that time, I'll keep throwing one foot in front of the other in a vain attempt to better myself and ward off the forces of evil.
No wonder old men get grumpy. They've run so much!