This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.
Even though some of you may have already read previous versions of this post. Since I have started writing on Aging Runnah exclusively, I have decided to clean-up and re-publish my forty plus years of running series here on Aging Runnah. 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.
To make things simpler I have broken these posts into somewhat chronological order, based on where I have lived and run. Some places will have their own posts, others will be combined sometimes I will even break out a particularly important event in my running into its own post.
This post will be about the years 1982 to 1984 and I was living in the:
Washington, D.C. Metro Area
I got assigned to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. during the Summer of ’82 and lived in Alexandria over at the Mt. Vernon Square Apartment Complex. Which had a path leading to the back road and up this big hill and then about a mile away was the Mt. Vernon Bike trail. I ran on the bike trail a lot while we lived in Alexandria. It was a lot safer than running on the roads around Rt. 1.
Although, as I added mileage to my running I did get over around Fort Belvoir and the Old Town section of Alexandria.Moss Brown, Inc.
One of the first things that I did when we moved to the D.C area was make a pilmagrage to the Moss Brown, Inc. Running Store, which no longer exists under that name. I had shopped from their mail-order catalog several times while living in St. Ignace and wanted to see the store.
I was impressed.
While there I bought my first Gore-Tex Running Suit complete with Running hat and mittens. I don’t know what happened to the hat, but I wore the suit until after I retired and had to eventually throw it out in 1998 or so, there just wasn’t a lot left to it.
The mittens, finally wore out and couldn’t be repaired a couple of years ago – those I still miss, they were perfect for running in nasty weather.
It was the best money I have ever spent on running apparel.
However, I never went back there after the first time, it was too difficult to get to and the prices were out of my range in the store. I found a running store in Old Town Alexandria that was comfortable to be in and I spent a lot time and money there. I want to say that is was called the “Run In” but I am not sure.
Coast Guard Running Team
I got involved with the Coast Guard Running club that first summer and participated in it for 2 of the 3 years I was stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters.
I somehow got talked into running the Marine Corps Marathon in August of that year (2 months prep is enough prep time for a first-time marathon – right), probably right after the Coast Guard Day run.
Looking back I definitely hadn’t trained enough to realistically finish well, but I gave into peer pressure, trained for and started the race.
No it did not end well.
Marine Corps Marathon – 1982
1982 Marine Corps Marathon t-shirt – yes I still have it
The biggest things I remember about this race were the number people pulling their shorts down (male and female) in a field just after the start in a small clearing about a mile after the start. Sure glad that I didn’t have to mow that field later.
I was running at about a 7:00 minute pace for the first 8.0 miles then my right knee (I have always had issues with it) didn’t like the idea of running anymore and while I pushed things to 13 miles, where I stopped and got in the meat wagon for a ride back to the start. You do not realize the agony of getting into the meat wagon, no one else who was on that bus with me spoke a word. It was like we were going to a funeral and no wanted to be there. You could see the pain in all the other runner’s eyes, as we got back close to the finish line inside the bus.
During that ride I vowed to train and finish next year’s race.
Marathon Training 1983
I actually trained for the 1983 Marine Corps Marathon. Of all the training logs that I have had over the years, this is the one that I have been able to keep intact. When I go back through this log, I see so many training mistakes that I made, but also the things that I did correctly.
The memories are there and when I look at them it takes me back to another time and place.
I ran three races that year besides the Marathon:
• 2/5/83 – Fort Hunt Park 8.0 miles/57.23 – Place 112
• 4/2/83 – Hains Point 10K/42:57 – Place 35
• 8/6/83 – Coast Guard Day 5 Miler – Station Alexandria 5.0 miles/32:17 place 11 (2nd in my Age Group)
Looking back I could have run in a race every weekend, but for some reason or other, I just never got involved in the racing part of running during this period. I was still doing way too much partying – something that almost caught up to me on the day that I had my Chief’s Initiation, but that is another story.
Which was strange because I am a fairly competitive person and enjoy the racing and social part after the races?
Especially, since I would go down to the “Run-In” (?) running store and run with a bunch of people on Wednesday nights, it had become my hangout after work (my 1st wife worked 3-11). We would take off in Old Town Alexandria and run down the Mt. Vernon bike trail. I was usually in the middle pack that did the medium distance of 6-8 miles. Then we would go over to one of the local establishments and do some carb loading.
Most of the time though I ran at lunch, my bosses were very supportive and I was running with a lot of officers and such, so no one complained if I ran 5-8 miles at lunch and then quickly ate at my desk.
We would run around the 14th street bridge, the Reflecting Pool, around the Monuments, down through Hains Point, over in front of the White House. To me Washington, D.C. is tailor-made for running. The only bad thing was during the summer we had to go past the fish market to get to all the great courses and then go back by it again to get back to work and boy did it stink on those many hot days. I gotta admit my gag reflex worked overtime in that area more than once.
Even back then, I was injured off and on and found that I had to be very careful when it came to my training, otherwise I had a lot of inconvenient aches and pains, that interrupted my running.
The funniest or strangest “injury” was when I went swimming in the Potomac River while partying with a bunch of my first wife’s friends from her work and got Poison Ivy on over 80% of my body (it wasn’t funny then) and had to go on steroids for 2 weeks. The steroids did work to get rid of the poison ivy and from that experience I can see why so many athletes took them, they do make a difference in your performance. Never took them again, they scared me to be honest.
Yes, I finished a marathon in 1983. The Marine Corps Marathon, even then it was a big deal. Unfortunately, running and forcing myself to finish that race took something out of me and I haven’t ever been the same runner since. I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my right hip and stopped running for quite a while. During that time is where I picked up some pretty bad habits.
You can read about it here. It was such a pivotal point in my running that I made it a separate post.
Started Running Again
In the spring of 1984 we moved to Woodbridge, VA and I slowly started running again, after that stress fracture in my hip, mostly on an old powerline just down the road from where we lived – it was rough going, but there was no traffic and easier on my body than running on tar.
I made Chief, October 1, 1984 and got transfer orders to Connecticut and had purposely stopped hanging around with some people…who looking back with 20/20 hindsight, had lead me down a dark avenue. It had hurt some of my future career opportunities and didn’t help my reputation around the building – I know that now, but couldn’t get it through my head then, even though more than a few people tried to warn me. Let’s just leave it at that and move onward and upward.
However, by the time I left, I was back to running 20 miles a week again and beginning to be my old self.
That dark period ended.
Running brought me back to being me.
The reality is that
My experience in running while living in the Washington, D.C. area was really a great experience. I just wish that I had done more with it.
If I had paid attention to running instead of having wandering eyes, I believe that I would have finished the MCM in 1983 just fine (around 3:00:00) and my running experiences might have been a bit different, which would have changed a couple of other things going forward.
What might have been is one of those games we all play, but in this case – I really do wonder.
Looking back to my running days from 82-84 were some of the more memorable in my distance running career – which were capped off by finishing the Marine Corps Marathon.
So I can legitimately claim the title of Marathoner (just not recently) and smile when others are talking about their experiences running one. I really don’t know if I will ever run another one, my body breaks down too much when I am putting in the mileage necessary to be able to run one the way that I want.
Only time will tell.
However, if I never do another marathon, that does not make me less of a runner. I have to focus on the fact that I can keep putting one foot in front of the other. As long as I can keep doing that, I am pretty damn happy.
I hope you enjoy reading these recollections, I know that I am enjoying going through the pictures, yearbooks, journals and reflecting back on these parts of my life.