I first ran a footrace in 1985. It was a 5K in Kalamazoo, MI. I don’t remember the date. I don’t remember the finish time. I remember that I was hooked. In the few summer months that followed, I ran six 10K races. And, with a characteristic obsession, ran myself into a stress fracture that broke the spell of running. I discovered the perfect spot on the couch and stayed there for twenty-five years.
In 2010, after the death of my father at 67, it seemed like time to re-evaluate. I was well over 220 lbs. I’d given up a 33-year smoking habit that had only been interrupted by the running summer of 1985, but had done nothing more to improve my overall health. I started walking on the treadmill, then running, then running outside. Once I got off the ‘mill, it was all over. I dropped forty lbs and started covering two-digit mileage in my runs. And, in 2012, I revisited a goal I’d set for myself in that summer of ’85 – to run the Boston Marathon.
It took two half-marathons, five fulls, and four years to get there. It took another qualifier to get there a second time. After the second, though, I slid into complacency. Really, it was a sense of, “What now?” I’d worked hard for five years to make two trips to Boston. It seemed like the pinnacle. While I dabbled with the idea of ultras, I think I always knew that I’m a pavement runner at heart.
Now, after nearly four years of sporadic running and literally no training, I’m feeling the pull again. The challenge, it turns out, was only hibernating. It’s never really been muted.