Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Running Story

My favorite running picture
Are you getting out and running in honor of National Running Day? I know I'll sound like a broken record once again, but I wish I could. But since I'm still waiting for this darn stress fracture to heal, I figured I'd do the next best thing: share my running story. I've provided plenty of snippets here and there at Fit-Ink, from race reports to random training stories, but did I ever say how I got started in the sport? I didn't think so. So at the risk, er full knowledge, of sounding like a weird, crazy fitness nut even more so than I'd like to think I project at Fit-Ink, here it goes.

I know I'm weird and crazy when it comes to exercising and running. I embrace it some moments (like admitting that I probably would live at the gym or out on the Lakefront Path if I didn't have to work)  and deny it in others. But this time I'm going to open up and not be shy about it.

I’ve run a marathon with improper training—I didn’t know it at the time because I was 20, running stupid and thinking I was invincible. Yeah, four-hour bike rides don’t substitute for long runs—and neither do the shoes purchased from DSW because of their color and price tag and not their fit and feel. I've joked many a time that I could write the book on how not to run a marathon because I've run it wrong at least as many, if not more, times than I've run it right.

I’ve gone running at 1:30 in the morning when most of the world is asleep. Not once, but twice—and I enjoyed myself both times.

I’m a creature of habit and have run the Chicago Marathon for the last 11 years, and this October will mark No. 12. I’m not going for any records but my own: keep running the marathon until I don’t live in Chicago anymore. Or at least that was my latest justification for why I’ve continued to sign up—after surpassing 10 Chicagos in a row and then running on 10-10-10.

I’ve run a relay with 11 near-strangers, one of whom was Bart Yasso. That is, before we spent 30-plus hours together in a van. You can’t call yourselves strangers after traveling 200 miles in two days from Madison to Chicago by way of Milwaukee. In fact, that's how Liz and I met—it’s amazing what you can talk about and learn on these adventures. And well, we must have liked each other if we were still talking enough to plan training rides on the Lakefront for the rest of that summer.

I will run even when I shouldn’t. Basically I’m in denial about injury and would like to think that the exercise would help, not hurt, it. As a result I’d walk the remainder of a race—Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach and Boston Marathon, you know I’m talking to you—than bow out. Case in point: the stress fracture in my tibia that I’m supposed to be recovering from (i.e. no running, boo!) and whine about often. If you see me at a fun run decked out in my running gear, kindly remind me to stay on the sidelines until further notice.

I have more running shoes and workout gear than I know what to do with--and more running shoes than dress-up shoes. Call me a hoarder, label me a pack rat, but I still have my first marathon shoes along with some later editions. Some I don't want to part with but others I've given alternate uses at the gym, riding my bike on the Lakefront Path or reserving for a painting project that's never going to happen--I know I really should just donate them to the bins that beg for shoe donations at my local running store. As for race shirts? I've reserved some tees to be sewn into a quilt, but that action didn't even come close to freeing up T-shirt space. See what I mean about collecting?

There’s probably more to my story than that--in fact, I know there is--but it’s all I can come up with for now. Besides, if I confessed my entire running story right now, there would be nothing to read later. And who would want that? But one more confession before I go that's only mildly related: You could call me a foodie with a running problem. I got into journalism because I wanted to be a food critic. Guess I went wrong somewhere along the line and I embraced the active life over the culinary one. But I wouldn’t trade it for a second.

Note: a version of this story originally appeared at FFCheer.


  1. Interesting story, running is quite good for the health.

  2. Thanks for reading and hope you liked my story. I agree--running is good for health. I'm injured right now and can't tell you how much I miss being able to go for a run whenever I want.



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