After a trip to Norfolk, Nebraska coupled with a month layoff from teaching I've had a lot of time to ponder the beginning of my running career. In my previous post I said the origin of my recreational and competitive running was Northeast Nebraska; that wasn't entirely true.
I was always an active kid and movement was a big part of my life. My parents signed me up for soccer when we were living in Lincoln, Nebraska and as soon as I was old enough I started playing basketball. I liked to run and move around--in sports, PE, and just playing outside.
I'm not sure when the first time I tried to run more than was required for an organized sport, though one event sticks out in my mind. My dad was a recreational runner when we lived in Lincoln and continued his running habit when he took a job as a principal out on the island of Oahu in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Fortunately for our family he took us with him.
One day while we were living in Aiea dad took me running with him. He usually ran on a paved trail next to Pearl Harbor. It wasn't the kind of picturesque beachfront trail you'd think of when picturing Hawaii. Pearl Harbor has some nice areas but the shoreline is mostly industrialized though with some military memorials and parks sprinkled here and there.
Still, my dad still found the trail pleasant enough to run on--it was flat and free from runner-hunting cars so he seemed to enjoy it enough. The day I ran with him--I don't remember if I asked to come along or was invited--I was most likely 11 or 12. I'm almost certain I'd never run at a consistent speed in one direction for any distance beyond a couple hundred meters before this father and son run.
What I remember about the run was this: I'd stay with my dad for a little bit, get bored, and sprint ahead. I'd cruise by myself among rotting mattresses, old Bento Meal containers, and puddles of brackish water until I started getting winded. After I got too tired my dad would catch up and the whole process would begin anew.
Besides some trysts with junior high track and field (no further than a couple miles I'm sure), running for football and basketball in high school, and running away from a couple of rednecks in rural Nebraska, running for running's sake didn't happen again for me until the 11th grade.
I've already mentioned the story of how I started high school track in a previous post, so I won't get into it here. I did have a good couple years of track in high school--made some good friends, ran some decent races, and ended up with a small scholarship to a small college near Lincoln, Nebraska. Unfortunately my college running career was short and injury-riddled.
I'd be surprised if I got more than 25 miles in a week of high school running, and my college team probably averaged 60 a week for freshmen, more for older runners. Most of the season I didn't run near that much. Instead, I made friends in the training room with injured athletes from every sport. Quadriceps tendinitis, shin splints, and finally tendinitis in my hip made college running more painful than fun, and after a season of cross country and two seasons of track I was finished running competitively for six years.
Thanks to my wife asking me to run the Twin Cities Marathon last October I'm back to doing some competitive (albeit amateur) running. Reading frequently about training and injury prevention and improving my practices has also helped me stay relatively injury-free and thus made running more enjoyable.
If you've stayed with this post for this long I commend you. I have no idea how many people read this blog, but it's nice to write things down and reminisce about the past. Tomorrow Laura and I are headed up to the Superior Hiking Trail north of Duluth for a four day backpacking trip. Laura's talked me into breaking my goal of running every day in August. After I run tomorrow I will have made it 28 days straight. I suppose missing a couple of runs while hiking ten miles a day won't kill my fitness. If I run three miles or more tomorrow I'll have over fifty for the week.