The Start of My Running Story

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Since I have returned to Aging Runnah, I have decided to clean-up and re-publish this series, there were a few rough spots, things left out and I thought it would be nice to share this old fart’s story of running over the years – yeah the story of how I became the runner I am today. Not everything has always been peaches and cream when it comes to my running.

If some of you have read this before, that is cool, but for others it tells the story of where I came from – that photo from 1968 – The Wonder Years (Yes, I was the same age as the main character in that TV show) – pretty much says it all.

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But here is the start of the rest of the story.

This is the first post and during this series I plan to tell a few stories from a lifetime of running and give you an idea why I still am running over 40 years later.

They will be my recollections (or at least how I remember them) and honest reflections on parts of my life that others only glimpse, when they saw that “guy” who was out running (mostly by himself).

How long have I been running?

Like most other people I ran ever since I could. I don’t remember a time when I haven’t run here or there or been involved in sports that require running, but it has been over 40 years of pounding the pavement or wandering around on trails.

I never enjoyed running very far when I was younger, what I did best growing up was running fast for short distances in sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, football (nothing organized), school yard races, races at the swim front, tag you are it, hide and seek and all those other games we used to play outside.

You know that era in the Dark Ages, before the day of electronic devices or the Internet. Basically when the adults in your life told you to get your ass outside and don’t come back in until it is time to eat or it got dark out.

The Smallest Guy my Grade

I was always the smallest and one of the youngest guys (thanks to an August birthday), in my class at school in Newport, so my primary survival skill was being able to outrun the bullies (there were more than a couple in our little town) both my own bigger classmates and the “older” kids (either before or after school – the gauntlet over by the Corner Store). This meant that I needed to be able to run really fast, but only for relatively short distances, once you got by the gauntlet, the older kids didn’t try to run after you very far, especially if there was easier pickings behind you – just the way it was back then. I didn’t get caught very often, but when I did, it made me remember why I needed to run faster.

Up until my 8th grade summer I was always the 2nd or 3rd fastest guy in my class even though I was usually what seemed like a foot shorter than everyone else. However, I could never beat one guy and after a while it became a mental thing. I “knew” that I couldn’t beat him and didn’t for the longest time any time there was a race or time to run fast against him, he always would beat me and then rub it in.

Things start to change

Swim Front Race

One day down at the Newport Swim front (where you could find me about 80% of the time during the summer) there a bunch of us hanging around being typical 12 or 13-year-old jerks and he was getting on me pretty bad (as usual) about being so much smaller than him, never as good as he was – in well you name the sport, etc. He was your classic local “jock jerk” type that was great at everything, handsome as hell, came from a “good family” and everyone thought he was great. He was one of the star athletes in our school and I was just one of the lesser supporting role players, who would never amount to a piss hole in the snow, according to some coaches and other players.

That day I got fed up with his “witty” remarks and challenged him to a race from the Legion Hall steps to the life guard stand – about 50 yards. One of those “boy” challenges with all the words and chest bumping that go along with it. He sarcastically said “I don’t know why you want to even bother Shaw, you know that I will kick your ass – again!” Along with a lot of other jeering and “fun” comments from our “friends”. After about 5 minutes of this abuse and me not backing down from him, he agreed to the race.

The Race

Everyone at the beach was hooting and hollering. They cleared all the people out-of-the-way and one of the “girls” started us. For me it was one of those “Chariots of Fire” moments and yes I beat him by about 5 yards – he had underestimated me and how fast I was. He was all blustery and demanded a re-match saying that he wasn’t ready when the girl said “go” and that he just let me win. After a lot of banter back and forth we agreed to make it a best 2 out of 3. He won the next race, but barely. I remember his words pretty clearly “See Shaw, I can beat you anytime I want too!”

The third and last race was even more hotly contested between us going back and forth until the end and as much as I want to say that I won – I didn’t.

He beat me by about a yard, but I was no longer intimidated by him when we ran (he still intimidated me otherwise and would for many years after that for other reasons). Even though he beat me 2 of 3 races that day, beating him just that once let me know I could do it again. However, he did treat me a little differently and didn’t pick on me nearly as much after that.

It was a Milestone

This is the first real race that I remember actually winning at much of anything and it was an important running milestone in my life.

After that day we swapped off who would win when we were in the same heats in track or doing wind sprints in the sports that we did together, until our Junior year in high school – after which he never beat me again.

It is funny that a simple thing like a small race at the swim front, turned out to be a big deal in my life and is one of those things that I will never forget. That one little race proved to me that I could compete against other guys in my class and hold my own with the best of them. I know that back then I had a real complex about being smaller than almost everyone else and never being quite good enough compared to the other guys in my class by either the coaches or even myself back then.

Looking back, I can’t believe the amount of abuse (physical and mental) I took from those guys simply because I really wanted and believed that I should be part of their group – the jocks. The only problem was that I really didn’t fit their group and the more I tried the worse the abuse from them became, especially as we got older.

Running during this time was more about survival (at least it seemed that way on some days) or having a skill that some of them couldn’t do as well as I could. It was about the only thing I had to build my self-confidence, since I was a very average student and not a very gifted athlete in the sports that were available to us before high school.

There were a lot of other things going on in my life during this time, that are not as much fun to remember, but are a part of my past and help make me who I am today. All I can say is that running was an important part of my life even back then.

Do you have a moment or race in your life that other people have forgotten about, but that means a lot to you and who you have become?

Things Are Slowing Down A Little

I love that the weeks are finally starting to slow down!!!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that we are all caught up with things, it just means that things are starting to feel like they are much more manageable again.

My favorite photo from last week:

A photo from yet another ice storm – it seems like we have had quite of few of those this year, at least when the temps are not in the negative numbers and with all the ice on the roads it does for us all to slow down a lot more. Who knows maybe they will get to appreciate the beauty in nature that surrounds them a little more.

That is if you can keep your vehicle between the snow banks. 😉

However, I have a feeling that even with all the nasty weather, us slowing down some does mean that I/we don’t feel as stressed to get everything done all at once and we are stopping to smell the roses a bit more. Which is a good thing and it also means that we have had a chance to think about LOTS of things and how we want to live our lives going forward.

We did contemplate a huge change in our lives, but after sitting down and really thinking things through, we decided that we need more time to think about making any major changes in our lives. We both want the chance to enjoy the life we have right here and a huge change of that magnitude, well do we really need that added stress right now?

We decided that we didn’t.

Which makes me feel a lot less anxious about the next few months :-).

However, it was pretty damn tempting though.

Back to the more mundane parts of the week.

I got some new glasses, not that big of a change in the script, just a bit of a change on the reading side of things and they have the changeable lenses, which I am not a big fan of, but it seems that my eyes like it better when I outside in the bright sunshine (especially when there is snow involved). They are a bit too dark for my tastes, but hey it is what it is.

A lot of my running tops (long sleeve and short sleeve) now have that permanent runner’s stink – not a good thing according to Mary and probably everyone that I encounter when wear them out in public (besides the gym, where most of the guys and some of the gals are wearing things have that exercise stench that really comes out when the body warms the clothes up).

White vinegar and baking soda doesn’t even touch the stench, so that means it is time to start looking for some clothes that don’t stink like a combination of rotten cabbage and 10-day old spaghetti left out on the counter way too long. Too bad, because most of the tops that I am going to have to get rid of are ones that I really, really like or have some solid running memories built into the fabric (besides the stench).

Also there are a couple of old running shirts that I love, which simply do not fit this old body the same way they used to and have rubbed my underarms raw the last few times I wore them. Either all the weight lifting is working or the shirts have shrunk – it can’t be that gravity is working on the old body and that I need to loose that 15 more pounds. Hehehehe

However, if I race a bit more this year, having long or short sleeve running shirts will not be as big of a deal. After all most races have that attire as part of their race entry fee, you just have to pre-register and actually show up. After all wearing a larger shirt is as simple as checking a different box – isn’t it?

Until then there is always Mardens or TJ Maxx.

Yeah, the mid-winter running clothes stink is a real problem, not just Mary’s sensitive nose – shhh even I can smell them and if I can, they are pretty bad.

Running Last Week

I didn’t quite make it to 30 miles, but I had a rest day and did some higher quality (faster) running on the treadmill than I have in a while.

When I do faster work, I purposely try to lower the mileage and cross-training stuff to give the body a break. Going faster wasn’t part of any training plan, the faster running just seemed to happen organically and I just went with it. On Friday, I even did a pretty good 5K time trial which gave me some more confidence going forward. By Saturday, I was pretty much toast and needed that rest day. The body and mind were both tired and needed some down time.

When I got up this morning, I was ready and raring to go for a nice long run, but the schedule around the house kind of dashed that idea until tomorrow, so I ended up doing a comfortable 4.0 miler down to Pepin, where I battled the remaining ice patches and the bitch coming back. The day off had done the body and mind good.

Running Shoes

I ran primarily in the Gravity 3’s, since most of the runs this week were on the treadmill (damned ice outside made running the roads a bit dicey) or the temps below zero, just didn’t thrill me all that much at the start of the week. The G3’s are still going strong and doing everything I ask of them.

The Gravity 5’s are my outside mostly clear roads running shoes. I have a feeling that their outsole (especially on the lugs) will not last as long as the Gravity 3’s. They are already showing a lot more wear on them with about half the miles. Which is too bad, because I am starting to really like running in them.

Here is where I ran into an issue last week, my U/A Speed Tire Ascents (which I wear most of the time walking, working around the house in place of boots and if I am going to run in nasty weather – they are my first choice), somehow got a hole in the left inside forefoot? Which means that while they are still comfortable, my foot ain’t gonna stay too dry. Which means that I have to look at some other alternatives going forward and will probably pickup a pair of Newton Boco Sols on the cheap. It is too bad, because I do like the U/A’s, but wet feet in winter just is not something that I want to deal with.

I did take the Hoka Bondi 5’s out for a walk, but I don’t know what it is about them, but I just do not like them. They are fairly comfortable, have decent grip and all that, but even just walking in them this afternoon…well I didn’t enjoy it. They may go away this week or if I am smart I will simply put them in the cabinet in the back of the garage and leave them there until winter is over. Give them a week of attention and then…I will decide what to do with them, yeah, that sounds like a better idea.

The reality is that

It was a pretty great week.