Monday, March 29, 2010

The Day I Became a Runner

I thought it would be fitting to start my favorite run series with the run that made me a runner. As I’ve said, I started running because my brother ran and because my high school girlfriend was on the Cross Country and Track team. All of this took place my senior year in high school. The school I went to was small and running wasn’t really cool. So most of my senior year I kind of looked the part and ran some. I would not come close to calling myself a runner. On the fateful day I was stuck with only one option and that option was to run.

It was a Saturday Night and I had driven to my girlfriends house for dinner and movies. My bitchin’ Camaro had an exhaust issue. The muffler had fallen off and so all 350 Cubic Inches of power to the floor was not all that quiet as it rolled down the road. In fact it was crazy loud. Well movies ran long and before we knew it, it was 1am. Her family lived in a quiet neighborhood, on the edge of town. The street had an influential football coach, a couple teachers and a few other families. It was clear I was going to get into some real trouble rumbling down the street late at night. I had jeans, t-shirt and running shoes on. I decided to run home.

The run from her house to my house was just over 4 miles. At the time that seemed like a long run. Before this day I think the longest I had run might have been 3 miles. The route on a map looks very simple but it isn’t. The stretch of road is a country highway with two lanes, no shoulder and dark. The only light is provided by the sky. In the 4 years before this night there had been more than one accident resulting in death. Blind corners, drunk drivers and high speeds made for a dangerous stretch of road. On this night there was one lone runner, dark pants, dark shirt and no lights. I ran like it was going to be the last run of my life. I ran in fear. I ran because it was the only thing I could do. I got home alive. Alive with knowing I made it. Alive with my pumping heart, sweating body and youth. It was the best run I had ever had and it made me become a runner for life. I struggled to sleep that night. I dreamt of running everywhere. From that day forward my mind switched to running and running and more running. I went from 4 miles to 10 miles to 50 miles/week in no time. It was now in my blood.

The following day, with no car and nothing really to do, I ran back to her house. I rang the doorbell and when she answered she quickly pulled me into the front room of the house. “We are in deep trouble,” she said. “All the neighbors came by asking why you spent the night here”. “They don’t believe that anyone would run home down that road in the dark”

I guess that’s been the same story ever since. You are a runnier or you are not. For someone to understand that you would and can run like that, they have to experience it for themselves. That’s the beauty of running.

It’s a good life….

Dave

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