I am a runner.
I say that not because I am about to embark on a 12-step plan to be cured of my running addiction. Quite the opposite; it’s something I hope to keep doing for the rest of my life, no matter how slow my pace ultimately becomes.
I am a runner, and I think anyone can be a runner. It took me years to refer to myself that way, but it shouldn’t have. Although it’s not a title bestowed upon me by some corporation (like “Editor of West Hartford Patch”), running, to me, has become an integral part of my personality.
My initial forays into running had a lot to do with romance.
I first became a runner the summer when I laced up a pair of Nikes and struggled to run a few laps around the track when “helping” a high school boyfriend prepare for the fall soccer season. I was lured there by the promise of a visit to Dairy Queen after the run. The Dairy Queen treats continued even after I got shin splints from running on the asphalt track (this was back in the day — no high-tech surfaces) in my Tretorns.
A subsequent boyfriend was training for the Boston Marathon. Again, this was back in the day (early 1980s) when marathon runners were an anomaly. He would run around town, stop by my house and lure me out for a mile or two, and then run back home. His house was at least five miles away from mine.
The first time I ran more than three miles was in college, during spring break. It’s a long story, but my first distance run involved a beach, a bike, and the lure of pizza and beer at the Florida home of a recent college graduate. Another boyfriend (who is now my husband!) had to ride the bike because it was too big for my 5-foot frame. The pizza and beer were seven miles away. I ran.
I did my first race — a 10K — in 1991. My husband was training to run his first marathon (what is it about my attraction to these running guys?) and I figured if he could run more than 20 miles, then I could certainly run more than three miles.
Since then, I have run two full marathons (and trained for two more, but that’s a story for another column), a dozen half-marathons, countless 5Ks and 10Ks, and one 24-plus-hour ultramarathon relay in the wilds of New Hampshire with a vanload of smelly men (which is definitely a story for another column).
I have run in the blinding snow (including the last five miles of an 18-mile training run), fallen on the ice, been treed by a couple of German shepherds at a corporate training facility in Santa Cruz, and have run midday in the heat and humidity of a Washington, DC, summer.
I have come back to running after breaks for pregnancy and childbirth, after surgery, and after breaking my foot.
I run not only because it allows me to indulge in my Cape Cod Chip habit (now that is an addiction for which I may need a 12-step program), but also because I love the way it makes me feel.
I have a few running partners, and try to do long runs with them once a week. We talk the whole time (except going up long hills), and it makes the miles pass — if not effortlessly — at least pleasantly.
When I’m by myself I run with my iPod’s eclectic playlist of music (which this morning included Nickelback, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, Taylor Swift, Gwen Stefani, and something that must have migrated from my teenage son’s playlist.)
The thumbnail photo at the top of this column — that's my license plate.
I could write about running all day, but I’ll save those stories for other columns.
I’ll be writing this column at least once a month, and I’d love to hear your running stories, too.