Let me start by saying, I hate running. Maybe hate is strong, but I’m not sure I love it yet, I’ve only been doing it for 19 years so the jury is still out. But the title of this isn’t “why I love running”. It’s “why I run”.
I say I started running 19 years ago but really in 1980 or so when I ran a 10k In Biloxi, MS. Having never run a step beyond P.E. class and field day, 6.2 miles was a natural starting point. I took the lead early, as all 10yr olds should and settled into whatever pace would be needed to secure last place.
I didn’t run again until 1995.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the climate of Austin, TX, but in July of 1995 it was just like every other July in TX. It was 100°. 1995 me got convinced that I should start running. Noon figured to be a perfect time to begin this journey into fitness with a 4-5 mile Bataan death march. I took another 15 year hiatus.
On March 17, 2000 I went to Sun Valley Idaho for my first ever ski trip. On day one I pulled out my buddy Ben’s snowboard and headed to Dollar Mountain. 2 hours later I was in their ER listening to a ski bum doctor telling me that “God was real good at building joints but doctors weren’t very good at putting them back together.” I had a 4th degree shoulder separation that would require 2 pins and 12 weeks in a sling. 12 weeks of not doing much moving at all plus my already sedentary lifestyle led to “Fat Pat”. I was topping the scales on the mid 220s and couldn’t lift my arm 10 inches.
Sometime in the fall/winter of 2001, after I had grown weary of sitting in the YMCA lifting 3 lb weights up I decided I finally had enough shoulder mobility to start swimming again. Stroke form had changed in the last decade since I had swum with any regularity, but I adapted quickly and enjoyed being in the pool. While there I ran into a guy I knew from college who told me I should come to a spin class. Still being fluffy Mc fat ass, I thought this may be a way to shed some pounds. I immediately loved it.
At this time I was still working in the bar/restaurant business and juggling 2 am bedtimes with 5 am spin class times. To make matters worse, there was also a high demand for the spin classes so to get into the 5 am class you’d better be there at 4:30. Beers or spinning beers or spinning? Life is full of choices.
As the fall of 2000 wore on and the spring of 2001 approached, I was encouraged by the same friend to do a triathlon. I was loving the bike and my swimming was faster than any triathlete we trained with. But there was still this pesky 3rd discipline. The run.
I started secretly running in my neighborhood. I hated every step. Where swimming was natural and cycling was coming easy, running was an instant struggle. I went online and printed something called the “couch to 5k” program and began. I’d write the intervals on my hand with a sharpie. I was 29 years old.
After a month or so of accelerating through the C25k, I was invited to come run with my friend Warren. Warren was a accomplished runner and triathlete and the jackass who got me into all this. We parked. I got out. We started. He ran approximately 200 yds with me and then said. “Just keep the lake on your right. See you in a bit.” 48 mins later I finished the 4 mile loop. Warren ran up about :30 after I finished having run 6.2 miles in the same amount of time. But this time I didn’t quit.
For the last almost 20 years I’ve run 3-6 days a week. I’ve run marathons, 50ks and even won a 27 mile trail race. But running never comes easy.
I’ve created a career for myself multiple times over. Running is at the heart of it. And yet it never comes easy.
I run because it will always be a challenge.
I run because it’s the most brutally honest look in the mirror I know.
I run to help others become better runners.
I run because I can and others can’t.
I run because while I’ve had a few good ones, I still can’t figure out how to make them all good.
I run because running gave me a new life.
And I still hate it.