Monday, April 14, 2014

Once A Runner...

Once I was a runner.  A real runner.  I breathed and lived for the pain and glory.  But I was just a child and the weight of my world was too much.  By age 11, I lost the fire and wanted to be a normal kid doing normal things.  I wanted to be average.  So, I broke my Old Man's heart and quit running for 20 years.

Over the years I looked back at these experiences with bitterness, as if I had lost most of my childhood. It was a source of strife with my father that drove a wedge between us.  The struggles we had over my quitting are among the most trying times of my life.  It brought out the worst in us.

However, as the years passed and in spite of my disdain for running, it kept it's hooks in me.  There is just something about it.  A few times a year I would sneak out to explore some back roads or obscure atv trails near my home in Ohio.  During these outings I could feel it tugging at me.  By the next day, the soreness and exhaustion reminded me why I left it behind.  In the end, it wore me down and won me back.  Once I found mountain running, it was all over.  It is simple and pure.  It scratches so many itches. 

Recently, I dug up some old photos from boxes in the garage.  I knew what I would find, but I wanted to remember it and feel the "weight" again.  It is amazing how happy it made me to relive those times.  The regret is gone.  Now I know...I had not missed out on anything.  I lived those days fully.  My days as the prodigal runner were a gift.  My father's greatest gift.  The gift I cherish every day, 30 years later.

Rob DeCastella, fresh off his Boston marathon win.  I was 7 and star-struck.  This guy was devilishly handsome and charismatic.  He had the perfect running career- great at every distance up to the marathon.  He held the Marathon World Record from 1981-84.  Meeting Deek was a life-changing moment for me.  He was the most influential runner for me, along with Jim Ryun. 

10yrs, 3 months old.  5 miles- 29:53.  My old Nike Duelist flats weighed 2 oz!  I was 4'9"

8 years old.

August 1985.  I was 6 and the Old Man was 35.  Hard to believe I'll be 35 next month.  He had just quit smoking and drinking and we had just taken up the jogging fad.  Back in those days, if someone saw you running, they would pull over and ask you if you needed help or just scream and throw things at you.

My PR's from the old training logs I dug up:
Age 9- 5:18 mile.  39 min 10k.
Age 10- 5:05 mile.  5 mile 29:53. 37:56 10k hilly.  10 mile 63:07  hilly.
Age 11-  17:13 5k on a hilly xc course. 4:56 mile. 2:14 800m.


  1. LOVE THIS POST. Yes, more please.

    Leaves me thinking that I will point folks to this whenever they ask if a young runner risks burn out and if it is worth it. The answer is not a simple yes or no.

    Perchance, have you ever read the book of the same title as this post?

    1. Geo,
      Oh yeah and "Again to Carthage" the sequel. Great books. Remember Quentin burnt out for a while and took up partying and law practice. Then, a death in the family and a change of venue (mountains) leads him back into it deeper than ever. Pretty much sums up my affair with running.

  2. Hi jeremy!

    Very nice introspective is the sort of thing that produces and drives greatness.