Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Running Background

I started running in grade school. Why? Because my dad was a runner and like most little boys I wanted to be like my dad. I can remember going on runs of 5 to 8 miles before school. I also played soccer for 15 years so I guess it was in my blood too. I kept it up through high school but seldom raced. In fact I can only recall a few races over several years. I was content just going out and running. In college I discovered beer and running was put on the back burner where it remained for a long time. After school I did some running here and there but nothing consistent. Back in 1999 I got pretty serious for a couple of years but was nagged by injury, the achilles. I trained for a marathon two years in a row and in the closing weeks of training it got me both times. Looking back I imagine it was due to increasing mileage too much too soon and running too fast. Then kids came, more career stuff, medical school for my wife and so forth. A few years ago I began again, running maybe 20 miles a week. Not much but at least it was pretty consistent. It wasn't until we moved back to Northwest Arkansas that it became a priority again. I found it to be such a great escape, a release, a way to maintain sanity. No cell phones, no iPods, no TV, in short, no distractions.
In short order I found a tremendously dedicated and friendly community of runners in the Bentonville area most associated with the Rush Running Team. Running buddies were made, group runs became a regular event, weekly speed workouts, weekend long runs and an introduction to proper trail running. With their help I have completed two marathons in the last year. The first was ugly (Mother Road Joplin Oct. 2010). In the second one I improved by 61 minutes (Cowtown Ft. Worth Feb. 2011). This October many of us are traveling to Minneapolis for the Twin Cities Marathon. I fully expect a significant drop in my PR again. I also completed my first Ultra at the War Eagle Festival this June. A 50k trail race out at Hobbs State Park. If my first marathon was ugly then War Eagle was fugly. Brutal but I finished. Thanks to some great support from those Rush guys. Now I have the endurance bug. The Bass Pro Dogwood Canyon 50k is on the table for this fall as is a Rock Creek 50 miler (Tennessee) in December and the Memphis St. Jude's marathon. However, a torn meniscus will dictate my race schedule for the remainder of the year.
I run now because I like the way it makes me feel. As much as I love group runs and make them a regular part of my routine nothing beats a solo trail run. I love the solitude, the changes in terrain, the sights and sounds. After Twin Cities I plan on dedicating next year to trail running. I would like to see how far I can go and how much I can improve. Call it wanderlust.

Until later...


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